Emily Harrington Is 1st Woman to Free-Cimb El Capitan's Golden Gate in Less Than 24 Hours

El Capitan at Yosemite National Park (Getty Images)
El Capitan at Yosemite National Park (Getty Images)

Emily Harrington, a seasoned rock climber, just became the first woman to free-climb the Golden Gate route on “El Capitan,” Yosemite National Park's 3,000-foot granite wall, in a single day. She attempted the climb last year, but fell along the way and was then hospitalized for her injuries.

Harrington, 34, began her climb on Wednesday and it took her 21 hours, 13 minutes and 51 seconds to finish it. She announced her achievement Saturday on social media.

“I never believed I could actually free climb El Cap in a day when I first set the goal for myself,” Harrington wrote. “It didn’t seem like a realistic objective for me. I didn’t have the skills, fitness, or risk profile to move so quickly over such a large piece of stone. But I chose it exactly for that reason. Impossible dreams challenge us to rise above who we are now to see if we can become better versions of ourselves.”

She also wanted to thank everyone for their support in the message.

“There’s a lot more to say but mostly I wanted to express my gratitude for the love and support from friends, family, and strangers. I feel the love so intensely right now. Thank you all,” she wrote, including the folded hands emoji. 

Only three men had made the same free climb in a day before Harrington. Free climbers use nothing to help them ascend up the rock, but have ropes attached in case of a fall.

While Harrington had attempted the climb many times, she was never able to do so in a single day. Last year when she fell, she ended up with a rope burn on her neck.

This trip, she was tied to the same rope as Alex Honnold, who is also known for his free solo climb of El Capitan. The climb was on Election Day, which Harrington noted in her Instagram post.

"(I was) caught between my own internal drama of achieving a life goal and the more prevalent one of the elections - both unfolding in parallel ways in my brain," she wrote. "I knew I was in for a big day - but that's exactly why I was there."


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